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Mahiʻai Match-Up Selects Farming Finalists

Two finalists have been selected in the 2016 Mahiʻai Match-Up agricultural business plan contest dedicated to supporting Hawaiʻi’s sustainable food movement by cultivating local farmers and decreasing the state’s dependence on imports.

The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, the Pauahi Foundation, the Ulupono Initiative, “Hawaiʻi Farm and Food” Magazine and Hiʻilei Aloha.

Kaivao Farm team members Keone Chin, Angela Fa‘anunu, and Kalisi Mausio pay a visit to their Mahiʻai Match-Up land parcel in Pāhoehoe on Hawai‘i island. The team plans to cultivate cassava and ‘ulu at their farm and will include education and internship components in their program.

Kaivao Farm team members Keone Chin, Angela Fa‘anunu, and Kalisi Mausio pay a visit to their Mahiʻai Match-Up land parcel in Pāhoehoe on Hawai‘i island. The team plans to cultivate cassava and ‘ulu at their farm and will include education and internship components in their program.

This year’s Mahiʻai Match-Up finalists are Kaiaʻulu o Paʻalaʻa on Oʻahu and Kaivao Farm on Hawai‘i island.  Both finalists will receive an agricultural land agreement with up to five years of waived rent from Kamehameha Schools.

Farmer Rob Barreca is a proprietor of Counter Culture Foods, one of last year's Mahiʻai Match-Up winners. His North Shore business specializes in seed-to-countertop fermented food production.

Farmer Rob Barreca is a proprietor of Counter Culture Foods, one of last year’s Mahiʻai Match-Up winners. His North Shore business specializes in seed-to-countertop fermented food production.

Judges this year include Kāʻeo Duarte, vice president of Community Engagement and Resources for Kamehameha Schools; Kyle Datta, general partner for Ulupono Initiative; Martha Cheng, editor for “Hawaiʻi Farm and Food” magazine; Martha Ross, capacity-building manager for Hiʻilei Aloha; and Mark “Gooch” Noguchi, executive chef for the Pili Group.

In July, the finalists will have a chance to present their plans in front of the judging panel. Based on the quality of both the business plans and presentations, seed monies from the Pauahi Foundation will be awarded in the amounts of $20,000 and $15,000 for first and second place.

 Tickets and sponsorships for the July 30 Mahiʻai Match-Up Gala are available at www.pauahi.org.

Tickets and sponsorships for the July 30 Mahiʻai Match-Up Gala are available at www.pauahi.org.

Seed monies awarded help to make these winning business plans a reality and increase the probability of long-term, sustainable success.

“Mahiʻai Match-Up provides a venue for farmers and entrepreneurs to access some of our most valuable agricultural lands,” said Sydney Keliʻipuleʻole, senior director of Statewide Operations for Kamehameha Schools.

“The goal of Mahiʻai Match-Up directly aligns with our Agriculture Plan to help make Hawaiʻi more self-sufficient by increasing local food production.”

The Mahiʻai Mentorship
Working to help mahi (cultivate) new farmers and integrate education, culture, agriculture and sustainability, KS is providing more opportunities for aspiring farmers with the introduction of Mahiʻai Mentorship – created through a partnership between the schools and GoFarm Hawaiʻi, aimed at developing the next generation of farmers.

The The first- and second-place winners and mentees will be announced at the Mahiʻai Match-Up Gala on July 30.  Proceeds from the event go towards agricultural scholarships and grants. Anyone interested in attending the Gala or becoming a sponsor can get more information by visiting the Mahiʻai Match-Up website.  Sponsorship deadline is July 11.

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